Come along for the ride!!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Indelible memories

M and I were talking about them on the walk to Tooting Common on Saturday evening. We’d made a conscious decision to keep both Annabel and Joseph up for the annual firework display taking place 5 minutes walk from our house (we would regret this decision the next day when both children would be very tired and very irritable, not only from their late night but from the clock adjustment too). Apart from this, the fireworks were great.

And it was the fireworks that prompted our “indelible memories” conversation.

There are memories burned into a person’s psyche that are blurry, incomplete, with an air of “did that actually happen” kind of feeling attached to them. You’re sure they did happen but you can only catch the briefest of flashbacks with no recollection of the 2 seconds before or after.

Try it now.

Think back to waking up Christmas morning. Two, maybe three seconds pass before the realisation that it’s the Big Day begins to dawn. You sit upright, look around, crawl to the end of the bed and there, waiting patiently, is the pillowcase you hung at the foot of the bed the previous night, only now it’s full of presents.

This is all remembered in a flash; it only lasts a second or two but it is crystal clear.

I remember going to watch a firework display on Hilly Fields in south east London. Watching a football match on the shoulders of family friends. Eating rhubarb in the garden of neighbours until we were literally sick. Getting chased down an alleyway with my little brother for throwing crab apples at houses until we heard a crash. Doing a sliding tackle at the top of a steep bank in our local park, ending up in a huge nettle patch at the bottom, wearing only shorts and trainers. Getting extra dessert from the back of the kitchens at primary school as we knew one of the dinner ladies.

The list goes on but you get my meaning. We all have these memories in the old grey stuff somewhere. You don’t even have to think about them; they just pop up sometimes with the slightest of triggers. It can be a smell, a noise, a colour, anything.

On Saturday, our usually quiet local area was like something out of a film, with houses emptying of parents and children, all in Wellington boots for the muddy trek towards and the across the common, traders selling glow-sticks and sparklers, the smell of the hot dog and burger stands filling the air; the look on Joseph’s face was a picture; he was beside himself with excitement, looking behind us to see the crowds following, other toddlers giving each other questioning looks like “what the hell’s going on, I should be in bed”.

Who knows what our children’s first memories will be? Maybe Joseph’s will be the night of his fourth bonfire celebration. Perhaps the smell of a greasy burger at a football match in 20 years time will bring it all back to him.

For the record, Annabel was generally unimpressed with the whole thing. She liked the huge fire throwing bright orange embers 30-40 feet into the air but she didn’t care much for the bright flashes and bangs of the rockets. In fact she nodded off so I doubt her first memory will be Saturday night.

I think next year, we’ll have a fireworks party.

Just in case it’s next years Guy Fawkes celebrations they remember first!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Mother and son

What a special bond this is. This bond was cemented this week in a jam packed full on week of half term activities planned by the lovely M.

As you can see from my previous post, day 1 is covered. The rest of the week has included a trip to the Science museum, purchasing a stretchy snake for good measure; lunch in a Pizza Express, breakfast in a hospital canteen following an appointment; a trip over to my parents for lunch and finally old nursery friends over to play at ours (this is happening as I type).

And that's it. Joseph's first taster of school holidays. Back to school next week.

For 5 weeks.

Then he gets another load of time off!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Busy busy busy

Joseph is currently experiencing the delights of being on holiday from school. M has taken most of this week off to spend with him.

Day 1 of half term consisted of:

Early train to London

  • breakfast near London Bridge
  • entire morning exploring the HMS Belfast
  • tube and short walk to Aldwych to meet me for lunch
  • bus ride across Waterloo bridge to catch a train from Waterloo
  • home.

By the time I came to give him a bath, he was absolutely wasted and could hardly stand up due to being “so tired”. We tucked him into bed, I gave him a cuddle and he was out like the proverbial light!

Over dinner, M and I discussed how bloomin’ expensive holiday times are. You don’t need to get on a plane to Europe for a week or two for holidays to be expensive. Just doing the above soon adds up.

Talking of European holidays, I would just like to say how nice it was to catch up with friends we made whilst in Greece earlier this year. Joseph was thrilled to see his chum Peter again as were we to see Jean and Chris.

My lamb shank with pearl barley, carrots and mash seemed to go down rather nicely, as did the wine brought by our guests.

We then thought it would be rather nice to go for a walk across the common and feed the ducks. Well, it was rather nice; right up to the point where the heavens opened and we all got soaked to the skin; literally.

Not sure our guests felt entirely comfortable in our spare clothes but dammit, they looked good!

As always, it’s not so much the getting wet walking home – it’s the fact that it stops raining and the sun comes out just as you get indoors!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Cake sale

You will need:

1 x Tom and Jerry cake mix
1 medium to large egg
2 tablespoons of water

Pre-heat oven to 165° (fan assisted)
Empty cake mix into a bowl, add the egg and water and mix until creamy.
Place paper cake cups into baking tray
Add mixture evenly to all cases

Place in middle of oven for 10-12 minutes.

Remove and allow to cool.

Mix icing and spoon a little on top of each cake.

Place Tom and Jerry wafer on top of icing and allow to set.

Et voila! 12 little cakes for Joseph to take to school for the cake sale. Well, 11 by the time the chef (him, not me) tasted his wares.

The cakes, PLUS 40 pence in order to BUY some of the cakes, if you don’t mind!

Somebody’s making a few bob at that school!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

And she’s off

I posted a while back that I was both looking forward to, and mildly fearful of, the time when Annabel started to talk. Well, take a deep breath ‘cos her first words are here; in abundance.

I guess I should also be slightly nervous at the fact that the first word ever uttered by this little human being was “shoes”. She has also taken to parading up and down the hallway with whatever bag of M’s happens to be lying available, nestled in the crook of her arm, like a 2 foot tall Sloane, waddling up to the front door and back again, smiling to herself.

She has been saying “Daddeeee” and “Mummy” for a little while but now she will attempt any word you say to her. Some notable examples are;





Actually, she didn’t attempt the word “pretty”, she got it bang on. Whenever I have tied her hair up and she turns to look at me, with an incredulous look on my face I whisper, “prettyyyyy” so she has been subjected to that one for a while.

She also has several French words in her vocabulary which is wonderful. M has been talking to her in French, her key worker at the nursery speaks to her almost exclusively in French and we have just taken delivery of Muzzy’s beginner French DVD set (I’ll let you know if it makes a difference).

Bravo ma fille intelligente


Sunday, October 15, 2006

The end of an era.

This is it!

After many years of wining and dining at some close friends of ours, tonight (I'm writing this at 2am), was the final time we would be socialising at their London home.

As of next week, their new address will contain a Salisbury postcode. This is both sad and uplifting.

Over the years, they have cooked us the great, the weird and the wonderful but tonight was good old fashioned roast chicken and potatoes with an amazing garlic stuffing, not to mention a fabulous courgette soup.

There was plenty of wine, plenty of chat and laughter before we veered off towards our inevitable pre-requisite moan about the world in general. The ingredients of a successful evening in my book!

I look forward to many more of the same in new surroundings.

Good luck to our friends Anne-Marie and Richard.
All the best in your new lives guys; we will miss having you just around the corner.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

October the 12th. 3pm

The sun is shining, it's a beautiful morning and the town of Positano looks wonderful from our balcony. The year is 2000.

Our wedding day.

And today we celebrated our 6th anniversary. Boy, things have changed for us in 6 years.

Moved house, got new jobs, become parents; twice! I'd call that a busy 2191 days wouldn't you?

Anyway, happy anniversary M - love you loads (and loads!)

Still, as always, you don't come here to read sloppy stuff like that, you come to find out how I'm faring as a Dad. And with that in mind, today threw up a corker!

One of the things that people tell you, that you read about, hear on television etc, is that children will say stuff to embarrass you with comments at innapropriate moments.

Well I wouldn't say that what Joseph said embarrassed me as such; more it made me burst out laughing and that was funny more than anything else.

We were walking home from his school, we were just around the corner from home, when an elderly gent' in his electric mobility chair (bordering on electric wheelchair) comes towards us on the pavement. I look down at Joseph and I can see that he's registered the approaching vehicle ON the pavement and his cogs are turning, he's going to say something.

He waits until the old boy is right next to us before shouting (in his ear), "Scalextric's Daddy, look at that Scalextric; like at Grandad's house".

I mustered all the strength I had to refrain from making a loud, rrrrrrrrrrRRRRRRRRRRrrrrrrrrrr engine noise whizzing by!

Cue laughter; mine.
Out of earshot I think!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

"I'll try to be brave"

Goodness me, where does the time go? A whole week since my last post, what a slacker!

Not really a slacker, I do have an excuse; I have had the mother of all back aches, off work, no bike, no nothing - not sitting at a PC included. But enough of my own trials and tribulations, you don't come here to read about me right?

It's been a busy week in the life of my wonderful children.

Annabel appears to be holding court in the baby room at nursery. Holding court to the extent that the manager (Nadia) at her nursery says that she will be "moving up" to the next stage of her development, the Little Learners room, just along the corridor.

Annabel's key workers are horrified at this; "she's not ready, she's too little, she needs her nap still" etc etc. They are opposed to this move to the point that one of the workers started crying yesterday with M!! They had some valid points; she does still need a nap and her midday bottle feed.

"Nonsense", Nadia says. "She can have her feed and her nap still but she IS ready to move".

I have to say I agree with her entirely. Missy loves her key worker, the other staff and children in her room but she looks a little .......... bored at times. When I peer through the room at her, she is wandering from place to place, toy to toy, person to person. I think she is ready for new challenges; plus the fact that the majority of her original friendship circle have already moved. Yesterday, we were walking along the corridor and she pressed her face up against the glass door of Little Learners and within 5 seconds, four of her pals had gathered on the other side of the door. She found this highly amusing.

Next month is when she moves. Watch this space.
To Joseph now and what a little trooper he is. He has taken the new school completely in his stride; it's the breakfast club that was causing me to worry a little. I can see how all the changes he went through were stressful for him; this manifested itself in him being clingy and upset when I came to leave the club; not any more though.

On Monday, I tried a different approach. We stopped outside the club, we faced each other on the pavement and I explained why he came to breakfast club (so I could pick him up early after school) and that he wasn't to be upset anymore when I left. Besides this, I also went back to preparing him a small bag of fruit like we used to in the nursery.

The result?

He sits down at a table inside and when I bend down to give him a kiss, he whispers, "I'm not going to cry". My heart squeezes slightly but I turn and leave and, as I look back to close the door behind me, he is proudly holding up a box of raisins for one of the staff to see, my presence forgotten.

Yesterday, we get to the door and he says to me, "I'll try to be brave". I want to hug him again but that would send the wrong signal at this crucial point. "Good lad", I say, choosing instead to ruffle his hair the way Dad's do, and I leave happy.

Today, the same. No mention of being brave or trying not to cry - he sits, opens his bag of fruit and smiles at his friend opposite the table from him. There is a slight moment where he looks back at me and grimaces slightly but it passes. I stand there and wave (the ultimate test) and he waves back smiling. Again I leave happy and relieved. I'm not counting my chickens but we may have cracked it.

Actually, I shouldn't take the credit - JOSEPH has cracked it. He's the one who is experiencing all this change; he's the one who has decided to roll up his sleeves and get on with it; it's him who's cracked it, not me.

I clearly remember being terrified of a certain teacher at primary school (my parents will vouch for this) and I was a screaming wreck most mornings, hanging on to lamposts, school gates, railings, strangers legs, anything to keep my Dad from dragging me to her class.

Joseph has made the transition pretty much hiccup-free and that, in my view anyhow, is admirable in a 4 year old.

Brave as a lion that boy.

This is why I don't understand this "caring mum's stay at home" argument. I am sure Joseph has moved from nursery to school more smoothly as a result of him being away from home from the age of 6 months old? Wouldn't the wrench of going to school have been greater if this past month had been his first taste of life away from home? I'm sure it would have.

Plus the fact that his week is now 5 hours shorter overall than when he was at nursery AND we get to spend 3 whole afternoons together.
As Del' Boy would say, "everyone's a winner Rodney".

Well done Poops.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

You want fries with that?

This 'picking Joseph up from school' malarkey is fantastic! I was waiting with the other parents outside his room (looking in through the window at him; very frowned upon behaviour) at ten past three and I was worked up. Actually getting butterflies because I was SO looking forward to doing something together.

Anyway, out he comes and we go to the shops to buy him a new drinks bottle (someone obviously took a shine to his last one!!), into the library for a few books and then off to eat.

"Where do you want to go to eat", I ask, knowing full well that a very nice Italian restaraunt was round the corner. "Would you like to go and share a pizza?"

"Yes", was the excited answer.

It was closed. And so was the next restaurant. And the next one. Well, it was only 3.30 in the aftenoon I s'pose.

We kept walking until we happened upon a greasy spoon. "How about sausage, chips and beans with bread and butter?" There's a note of pleading in my voice now as I'm pretty hungry myself. This was also met with a "yes" so in we went and ordered exactly that, with a tea for me and milk for Poops.

The verdict? Delicious we both agreed.

Food aside, in the brief silences while we ate, I took a second to appreciate the situation I found myself in. What a lucky guy. Able to pick my son up from school, walk around until we find somewhere we want to eat and then share one of those special moments that you can't plan; they just kind of happen.

We talked about nothing much in particular but it felt so-o-o-o good. Just the two of us, a father and his son in a greasy spoon in South West London; just two ordinary people but feeling for all the world like the only two people.

When we finished, we went and lit a couple of candles in our local parish church, ran for but missed our bus and walked home in the spitting rain. Amazingly, even I didn't mind getting rained on which is a miracle.

Must've had something to do with the candles we lit!!